As a dancer, strong inner thighs (or “adductors”) are extremely important. Your adductors support and stabilize your turnout and also pull the legs toward your midline (which is critical in everything from rising out of a plié, rélevé sous-sus, and beated jumps like entrechat quatre). You don’t need a Suzanne Somers “Thigh-Master” or special gym equipment to target your inner thighs—You can use your own body weight in exercises that engage and fire up these key dancing muscles. Check out our list of adductor exercises and add a few to your pre-class warm-up:
Center Stage beats: You know the finale number in “Center Stage?” (How can you not!) Well, remember when the corps de ballet lays on their backs with their legs pointed towards the ceiling? Not only is this a memorable moment in the dance, but it’s also a great inner thigh strengthener. Lying on your back, lift your legs and point your toes to the ceiling. Turnout your legs from your hips and beat your right foot front-to-back before stretching your legs laterally in a wide second position. Then, draw your legs back to the sky and repeat the beats starting with the left foot. Pay attention to initiating the movement from your inner thighs and turnout muscles rather than just beating your feet and ankles. Repeat for two sets of 30-seconds. Play with speed (fast and slow) to add some variety!
Leg lifts: Lie on your right side with your hand propped as a little pillow for your head. Step your left foot on the floor in front of your pelvis for stability and straighten your right leg long, in opposition to your head. With a flexed foot, lengthen your extended leg and lift it about 6 inches from the ground. Pulse your leg for two sets of 10 and then hold your leg out for 5 tiny circles in each direction. For an extra burn, wrap an ankle weight around the working foot!
Pilates roll-ups with a prop: Sit straight up with your legs extended forward. Place a prop like a yoga block, exercise ball, or rolled-up towel in between your thighs. Engage your inner thighs to hold the prop in place while you articulate your spine down to the floor from tail bone to skull. Once you reach the floor, reach your arms back up to the ceiling, tuck your chin, and slowly roll back up to a seated position.
These three exercises sound simple but trust us—you’ll feel the burn in your adductors in no time! After you finish these warm-ups, take a few minutes to stretch your splits and center straddle to lengthen the muscles you’ve just worked.